Defending champions Marcel Hug and Manuela Schar are amongst a field of over 50 wheelchair athletes confirmed to race the Berlin marathon in the German capital on Sunday (24 September).
The event is the second of seven major marathons taking place around the world in 2017 and 2018 which together form the Abbott World Marathon Majors series.
Series XI began in London, Great Britain, in April this year, with local favourite David Weir clinching the men’s race and Swiss former world marathon champion Schar winning the women’s event.
Weir saw off Paralympic champion Marcel Hug to cross the line first in London - a rare defeat for the Swiss Silver Bullet who won six major marathons in 2016 on his way to claiming victory in the inaugural Abbott WMM Series for wheelchair racers.
Hug lines up in Berlin hoping to defend the title he won last year when he clocked 1:29:51 – just 0.02 seconds ahead of South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk, with Japan’s Hiroki Nishida in third place.
“I am really looking forward to racing in Berlin again. I'm feeling ready to hit the roads after the World Championships and of course I want to defend the title I won 12 months ago,” said Hug, who won 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m T54 gold at the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017.
“A win in Berlin is also important to get maximum points for the Abbott Series as that is another title I want to defend.”
Nishida and his compatriots Kota Hokinoue and Ryota Yoshida; Spaniard Rafael Botello Jimenez; Briton Simon Lawson; and Ireland’s Patrick Monahan are also among the men’s elite field this year.
Watch out too for 20-times winner Heinz Frei, another of Switzerland’s top wheelchair racers. Frei set the current course record of 1:21:39 back in 1997.
Like Hug, fellow Swiss star Schar will also be chasing a second consecutive win in Berlin.
Switzerland’s four-time winner Sandra Graf and Brits Jade Jones and Mel Nicholls also line up in the women’s elite field. Graf, who finished second last year in Berlin, is the course record holder with a best time of 1:39:29 set in 2009.
How it works
For 2017-2018, the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XI includes the London, Berlin, Chicago, New York, Tokyo and Boston marathons – starting and finishing in the British capital. Points are awarded to the top five male and female finishers at each race, with scores accumulated throughout the season.
The winner of each race earns 25 points; second receives 16 points; third gets nine points; fourth place means four points and fifth place earns one point. The male and female series winners share a USD 100,000 prize purse at the end of the series in London next year; second and third place finishers receive USD 25,000 and USD 10,000 respectively.
Series XI current standings:
1. David Weir (GBR) – 25 points
2. Marcel Hug (SUI) – 16 points
3. Kurt Fearnley (AUS) – 9 points
4. Ernst van Dyk (RSA) – 4 points
5. Rafael Botello Jimenez (ESP) – 1 point
1. Manuela Schar (SUI) – 25 points
2. Amanda McGrory (USA) – 16 points
3. Susannah Scaroni (USA) – 9 points
4. Margriet van den Broek (NED) – 4 points
5. Jade Jones (GBR) – 1 point